When anything is available in excess, it all begins to look the same. When online retailing became all the rage, offline stores became boring. Brands had to innovate, put exciting offers out for consumers to attract them back to the stores.
And e-commerce doesn’t have it easy either. A staid, boring page – which looks the same every day – will eventually drive the traffic away, to either physical stores or to more appealing e-commerce sites.
One website that offers a refreshed, new look every day is LimeRoad. The user interface is extremely simple – it makes shopping easy, and extremely well-catalogued SKUs keep bringing consumers back for more.
“Lifestyle products account for 21 per cent of global e-commerce and most of it is not discoverable. Only 2-3 per cent is currently available online. There are 20 million SME plus micro-enterprises, which comprises a huge market opportunity. It is this seed that led to the birth of LimeRoad. The idea was to democratise style via social commerce,” says CEO and Founder, LimeRoad, Suchi Mukherjee, on the inception of the e-commerce portal.
She says that she always had a clear vision – a highly engaging platform where users would land not for discounts, but for new products daily. “We built LimeRoad in such a fashion that consumers got ‘Freshness on Steroids’. Fresh personalised fashion is served to our consumers every 30 seconds via the LimeRoad app!”
LimeRoad has raised a total US $50 million. Key investors include: Tiger Global Management, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Matrix Partners India. The money has gone into expanding the business, roping in more brands to sell on the site.
However, one area where the brand has not concentrated on is private labels. Suchi says this is a consciously adopted modus operandi.
“We did not want to invest in our own private labels and hold inventory since that just did not seem like good business. Holding our own inventory would skew our incentives towards our own brands rather than genuinely allow the best styles to bubble up – which is why LimeRoad is a true style meritocracy,” she explained.
The e-commerce site started with women’s apparel and accessories, and then expanded to home and interiors. 2016 saw the launch of their men’s wear category, which according to Suchi, has witnessed a phenomenal market response.
Surviving Without Offering Discounts
For those who always hold the view that online marketplace models survive only because of the discounts they offer, Suchi had this to say, “We had to work to educate our customers, our vendors and even the industry that a marketplace that was not built on discounts had a real chance. We went about building a style community, combined with discovery fuelled by people and their social networks.”
“Via our mobile app, we empowered audiences across the country to have personalised style options at their fingertips – from specially curated products, to bestsellers from established brands. Gradually, the idea sank in that LimeRoad enables men and women to discover, share and shop gorgeous and affordable products across categories, at reasonable prices,” she added.
Those Who Put it All Together
Suchi is a firm believer in the fact that there is no dearth of talent in India, and she was keen to join hands with those who knew their work just as well as her, so as to provide the best possible consumer experience.
So, she went about curating the best minds in the industry for LimeRoad.
“You need to start off with basics and device a plan to deal with teething issues. To begin with at the very start, finding great people for the team: the combination of skill and real can-do was hard.”
“Complexities with basic infrastructure, including things as basic as reliable Internet, complex bank process, involved RoC processes was also a struggle,” she added, but then entrepreneurship is hard and she knew she needed to be prepared for the best and the worst.
LimeRoad’s core thesis is that fashion and lifestyle will be won on ‘freshness’. Elaborating on the marketing and media initiatives undertaken by LimeRoad, Suchi said, “Our marketing and social media initiatives are based on the hypothesis that socialisation has become a core part of the millennial experience. This is the ‘social’ generation and they socialise while they are consuming information and media. Socialisation through media and the Internet is empowering them to create new experiences for themselves. And this falls neatly into the LimeRoad’s philosophy of social commerce.”
“We provide them with delightful products from across a network of local products and established brands, this generation is able to ‘play with freshness’ and create their own interpretations of style via our scrap-booking tools, which is core to the entire LimeRoad brand experience. Our campaigns are also deeply engaging without resorting to the discounting game every time,” she added.
“The digital community that we have created around the LimeRoad brand ensures that there is ‘Freshness on Steroids’ – new unique styles that are hitting screens every 30 seconds. This means that no matter when you come to LimeRoad, you will see great new styles. This is unparalleled and fuels addiction which this audience loves,” she further stated.
Expect LimeRoad to be bold! Mukherjee said:, “At LimeRoad our mission is to build the most extensive platform for the discovery of delightful products. Towards that end, we have recently closed one of our major goals of 2017, and signed up with the MoU with Madhya Pradesh Government to give local handicrafts a national presence. The gorgeous Mrignayani products crafted by the talented artisans of MP have been around for years.”
“The LimeRoad Mobile App will take these unique assets of India to millions of customers, and make these products from Traditional to Trending! Over the next couple of months, we will be working with the talented artisans of Madhya Pradesh to blend these wonderful traditional weaves with modern day styling, thus taking these fabrics right into the wardrobes of the millennials,” she concluded.